Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility  - Jane Austen [These notes were made in 1984, and refer to the George Allen, 1899 edition, which has an elaborate cover design by A.A. Turbayne:]. Another book bought for its cover - this time a rather attractive thing by A.A. Turbayne. But the contents are worth owning, too, although I tend to go with the general critical dictum that this is an inferior novel to P&P or Emma. The chief problem is, I think, that the "mistaken" pairing-off - of Elinor and the Colonel - seems somehow more right than the "correct" pairings-off at the end. Elinor and the Colonel are so very alike, so very sensible; one could see them making a happy marriage. Nonetheless, the joy of getting back to Austen's clean, hard-edged style, after wading through so much flaccid prose in other books, is palpable, and that uncompromising grasp of the ins and outs of everyday human folly is thoroughly delightful. I was mildly disturbed by the late nineteenth-century illustrations, and more than mildly disturbed by the patronizing, sexist introduction.